New Delhi: Anuradha Bhasin, the executive editor of Kashmir Times, has filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court, seeking directions to ensure that all the journalists and other media personnel in all parts of Jammu and Kashmir be able to practise their profession.
The petition further states that the “debilitating restrictions imposed through the complete shutdown on internet and telecommunication services, and severe curbs on the movement of photojournalists and reporters be immediately relaxed in order to ensure the freedom of the press and media”.
The petitioner is represented by Vrinda Grover, Soutik Banerjee and Ratna Appnender in the apex court and it was filed through Sumika Hazarika, Advocate on Record.
Bhasin said that she has not been able to print and publish the Kashmir edition of Kashmir Times as the complete and absolute restrictions on all communication services and movement has resulted in “imposition of blockade on media activities, including reporting and publishing on the situation in Kashmir”.
Kashmir Times was published simultaneously from Jammu and Srinagar, but after the clampdown in the state since August 4, it has been impossible for the editor and the reporters to publish its Srinagar edition. Hence, Bhasin has sought directions to the J&K government to relax restrictions to allow journalists to exercise their right to report freely on the situation prevailing in J&K. She said that such restrictions “were curbing the rights of journalists under the provisions of Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution of India and the right to know the conditions of residents of Kashmir Valley”.
“The absolute and complete internet and telecommunication shutdown, severe restrictions on mobility and sweeping curtailment on information sharing in the Kashmir valley, at a time when significant political and constitutional changes are being undertaken in Delhi to the status of J&K, is fuelling anxiety, panic, alarm, insecurity and fear among the residents of the Kashmir,” said the petitioner.
From August 4, 2019 onwards, mobile phone networks, internet services, and landline phone connectivity were all discontinued and shut down, leaving Kashmir and some districts in Jammu completely isolated and cut off from all possible modes of communication and information. The communication blockade and strict restrictions on movement of journalists resulted in a virtual blackout, and media reporting and publishing is grievously impacted.